Trolls, fake trolls, and outrage addiction

Okay, I see more and more trolling everywhere, even people pretending to be me, and it smells fishy.

We all know “don’t feed the trolls.” Here’s a lot of why that’s smart and compassionate.

If you want to keep it simple, just remember that “haters gonna hate,  and trolls gonna troll,” and there’s nothing you can do about it  except starve ’em.

The broad context is that there are people always looking to feel offended about something. They feel good when they’re outraged about something, maybe they feel good ONLY when they’re outraged. I don’t know about official psychiatric definitions, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s addiction.

Jonathan Bernstein, a trusted friend and advisor, talks about the “outrage trap”. It’s a method bad actors use to manufacture an activist group, usually for corrupt purposes. Since there’s little factchecking these days, they can make up whatever they want, and there’ll be outrage addicts who’ll fall for it.

Jonathan says it better, in The Outrage Trap – How You Get Turned into a Dupe by Political and Activist Groups:

“Outrage Trap,  A communication containing false information designed to elicit outrage that furthers the purposes of the trap setter.”

You might also want to check out Our Addiction to Fake Outrage.

Here’s a few reasons you don’t want to feed the trolls:

  1. If the troll is real, at best, they’re seeking your attention. If you respond, you’re feeding a real unhealthy need, and that encourages their behavior. This is separate from any victimization via an outrage trap.
  2. Some trolls are actually one person or group using many identities, and they’re trying to fake consensus and generate activism, or trying to get the troll’s prey to say something stupid.  I’ve been doing customer service for over seventeen years, have seen this a lot, and it’s getting worse.
  3. Trolls will post fake information, and it’s not smart to draw attention to it.  You might want to post correct information, separately.
  4. Trolling, once done, is permanently on the record, and years later may have rather unpleasant repercussions for the troll in terms of employment or liability.  If you respond, it might be more discoverable in search engines. In the spirit of forgiveness and compassion, don’t make it worse on the troll.

I don’t have good answers for really dealing with the proliferation of trolling and related disinformation.  Some people feel that’s becoming so common we’re all getting desensitized to it, and I think that’s true of Millennials. Unfortunately, people over thirty, even trained news professionals, seem more susceptible to outrage traps than younger.  We might just have to outwait and survive the trolls, which is no fun at all.

0 thoughts on “Trolls, fake trolls, and outrage addiction

  1. The addiction to “Responding” and maybe Problem solving is at the base of some of this. America has the “Universal Solution” Captain America to the rescue and Democracy and the AMERICAN WAY prevail again. The hero myth and exceptionalism go hand in hand with CAPITALISM and Invention of an Awe inspiring Technology of Great Scientific importance which will be the next IPHONE release …so the solution is coming in the Future.

    So yes. Over 30’s grew up and have that VALUE setpoint set.
    Call it mass hysteria, Propaganda, Peer pressure. Public education failing to teach thinking instead of what to think, and then how to maintain these values at all cost.

    I personally see this in myself at 56 yrs. of age. But it was just yesterday that we seemed to have a collective dream and then life came flowing into the marshes and we get carried out of the Estuaries to swim on our own. Then you discover self centered greed and other centered cooperation.
    And that SetPoint of beliefs say’s never give up. Only when you give up have you become a loser. Winners never give up.

    And old age sets in and things change and events force reflection. A new appraisal of our “winnings” tells the story and what we could have done differently reflects a new outlook on what we do. Fate for some turns to HATE and TROLLS troll for the excitement that pushing others buttons yields and the protection of ARROGANCE shields them from their Pain, their healing . I wish that I could see the underlying emotional child before I get swept away by the false image of an Adult quicker but that takes practice. More practice for some than others. Turning the other cheek is in direct conflict the Knee Jerk reactions especially when we know not what is happening.


  2. There are a few reasons people “troll” or become vicious or un- proportionately outraged over matters has little to do with the matter at hand and more to do with the person’s current mental state. It is a reflection of what is going on in their personal thoughts and often time to their close family and friends.
    Adrenaline is addictive. There is in fact a rush in releasing anger which leaves a person (who haven’t been conditioned against their basic instincts) feeling powerful.
    In today’s society people are not allowed to vent angers and frustrations in appropriate ways, and often when a person voices any discomfort toward another, the cycle of over reaction begins…fight or flight. Defensive and offensive attitudes begin.
    Our society doesn’t have the skills at this time to overcome poor emotional regulation on a mass scale.
    It begs to differ, at what point does a mental illness just become an excuse to never adapt and overcome our faults; to mature and move on.


  3. I deal with people who are being overtly negative by reminding myself that I don’t have to come home to this person and someone else does…I feel sorry for them.
    I remind myself that I do not owe this person anything…even an explanation or acknowledgment if they are not going to acknowledge the truth about me.
    I trust, after all I’ve lived through, that karma wins. God can make this person more miserable than I ever could by holding a grudge or seeking revenge…that’s probably why they’re so miserable and negative in the first place.
    I don’t have to get along with everyone. Even the basic building blocks of life are built on positive and negative poles…what makes human attitude any different? If people disagree, no matter the reason, it creates friction. Friction=Movement.
    One thing I’ve learned in researching people and learning people’s stories; If you lived the life they had (rough upbringings, violence, abuse, addiction, rejection, etc.), you would most likely be doing the same.
    Lastly, anyone who really matters will always go to the source for their answers. Not to worry about lies…it’s part of having so much attention. Anyone who really cares will do their research.


  4. Seems trolls gather where anonymity is greater. This is true in real life also. The greater chance that someone will identify you, especially someone who knows, likes or could harm you, the greater degree of decency folks show. Strip those away (yahoonews comments are my favorite here) and you get totaltrollism!


  5. Yes I agree there are more trolls. Many trolls are unemployed they have all the time in the world. And many trolls may be on prescription medication and a host of mood-alterers. On my FB page we have a strict no troll policy. One foul post and you’re deleted and banned, one of the reasons I love FB, easy to ban them.
    One troll came back under a different persona to ask about…free speech! Yup they actually think its their right and privilege to troll. Women, I find, give trolls more rope they try to understand them or get into drawn out back and forths. Not me! Many trolls are surly page owners as well. As always Craig thanks for all your good works much appreciated.


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